The 2016 British Touring Car Championship got underway in true touring car style at Brands Hatch, located in Kent over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd of April. The weekend saw three different drivers take victory in three close fought races. Speedwork Motorsport’s Tom Ingram, Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden and WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan all stood on the top step of the podium but it was Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal who left the circuit in the lead of the championship.

Ingram set his fastest lap and broke the lap record in qualifying on Saturday afternoon, where he took his maiden pole position in the championship. The young driver backed up the pace he had in the Toyota Avensis with a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race of the weekend and season.

The reigning champion, Gordon Shedden inherited the lead and went on to win the second race of the weekend after contact between Tom Ingram and West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard sent them both spinning out of podium contention.

For race three it was another change in the lead when pole sitter Sam Tordoff had to give it up to a charging Adam Morgan. Tordoff and West Surrey Racing teammate Jack Goff kept Morgan honest in his Mercedes throughout the whole race, holding on to take his third career victory.

The weekend got underway under glorious sunshine as tens of thousands of fans arrived at the Kent circuit. The crowds of spectators were entertained from the beginning as Ingram secured his maiden win in the championship. He received standing ovations and a delighted round of applause from the whole entire crowd.  The race got a bit hectic further down the order, the top three (Ingram, Shedden and Neal) remained steady throughout the race. Due to a backmarker slowing down and a mid-race spell under the safety car were the only issues Ingram faced but the youngster dealt with both very well and held on to take the victory. The two young MG drivers, Ashley Sutton and Josh Cook finished the race in fourth and fifth. West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard finished the opening race in sixth.img_0118Photo Credit: Tilley Photography

The Halfords Yuasa Racing duo improved during the second race as they secured the first Honda one-two of the season as Shedden led Neal home. Ingram maintained the lead off the start line with Collard jumping from sixth to second off the start before the thirty-two-car grid reached Paddock Hill Bend. Collard began attacking Ingram and the two touched at Paddock on the second lap of the race before more forceful contact occurred at Druids, sending the BMW into a spin, Ingram carried on for another half lap before slowing due to damage sustained in the incident. Honda inherited the top two places and never looked back, Team BKR’s Aron Smith rounded out the podium positions. Motorbase Performance’s Andrew Jordan finished the race in fourth ahead of teammate Mat Jackson and Ashley Sutton finished in sixth.

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WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan celebrated the win in race three around the Indy circuit after holding off a race long attack from West Surrey Racing’s Sam Tordoff and Jack Goff. Morgan slotted in behind pole-sitter Tordoff and the soft tyre helped Morgan to crawl all over the rear of the BMW during the opening lap of the race. The Mercedes driver saw his opportunity on the second lap of the race and dashed past Tordoff on the run down towards Paddock Hill Bend. The final part of the race had spectators on tenterhooks as Tordoff and Goff attacked Morgan to try and force him into a mistake. Morgan held on and defended from them to take the win. Tordoff took second with Goff in third. Motorbase’s Andrew Jordan finished the second race in fourth ahead of Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal in fifth and West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard finished in sixth.

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Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal did not win any of the three races of the weekend but he did use all the experience he has to take more points than anybody else with his strong finishes in second, third and fifth to leave the Kent circuit in the lead of the overall drivers’ championship. Second place in the championship is teammate Gordon Shedden. Race winner Adam Morgan sits in third, just six points between he and Neal. Team BKR’s Aron Smith and Motorbase’s Andrew Jordan enjoyed a solid weekend and lie joint in fourth in the championship standings.

Honda left Brands Hatch in the lead of the Manufacturers/Constructors’ standings from West Surrey Racing and Mg. Debutants Subaru sat in fourth. The Japanese manufacturer showed an impressive effort to have all four Levorgs ready for the opening weekend of the season. Team BMR were rewarded for their efforts as Jason Plato and Colin Turkington scored points during races two and three.

Halfords Yuasa Racing left the circuit leading the Teams’ championship, whilst Aron Smith and Team BKR left in the lead of the Independents driver and teams championships. Series debutant Ashley Sutton left the opening weekend of the season in the lead of the Jack Sears Trophy.

After the races, there were a few penalties handed out to multiple drivers for incidents that occurred. After race one AmDTuning.com’s Ollie Jackson received an official reprimand and two penalty points on his license for an incident with Power Maxed Racing’s Hunter Abbott. After race two Dextra Racing’s Alex Martin was handed a £500 fine and three penalty points on his license for an incident with Team BKR’s Mark Howard. After race three Tom Ingram was handed a £500 fine and three penalty points put on his license for an incident involving RCIB Insurance Racing’s Jake Hill. Ashley Sutton was handed an official reprimand and two penalty points on his license after an incident with Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin.

 

©Fay Tilley 23rd December 2016.

 

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